Hamlet: Facts About the William Shakespeare Play

Here are some facts about William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet.

  • The full title of the play is The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

  • The exact date of when it was written is not known, but experts estimate that it must have been penned between 1599 and 1602.
  • Hamlet is the longest of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • The play is about the revenge Prince Hamlet is urged to carry out by the ghost of his father on Claudius, his uncle. Claudius murdered Hamlet’s father and married Hamlet’s father.
  • It is thought that, when Shakespeare was alive, Hamlet was one of his most popular plays.
  • Today, it is one of the most performed plays. Since 1879, it been performed more than any other Shakespeare play by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • The storyline of Hamlet was, in part, taken from Saxon legend of Amleth as retold by Francois de Belleforest (a scholar of the 1700s)
  • Most experts agree that Shakespeare wrote the role of Hamlet for Richard Burbage, one of the top Elizabethan actors.
  • Some of the characters in Hamlet are: Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Horatio, Laertes and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • Some people believe that the character of Polonius was based on William Cecil, chief counsellor to Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Many actors have performed the title role including: Ralph Fiennes, Richard Burton, Mel Gibson, Keanu Reeves, Jude Law, Christopher Walken, Ian McKellen, Daniel Day-Lewis, David Tennant, Ethan Hawke, Kenneth Branagh, Laurence Olivier, Derek Jacobi and Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Hamlet has inspired many great writers, including Charles Dickens, James Joyce and Iris Murdoch.

What next? Discover some facts about Macbeth, another one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.